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Five for Fantasizing: early season explosions

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Lots of goals leading to some surprising players leading the way.

Bruce Bennett

The NHL regular season is just over 10 days old. Most teams have played three or four games to start the year, and while jumping to conclusions this early is not a good idea, one can start to recognize some trends.

Trend number one, it's good to play with high skill players. We all know John Tavares is good, as evidenced by his seven assists and nine points in three games. Playing with Tavares is just as good, as Brock Nelson has taken advantage of lining up on number 91's wing to the tune of four goals thru three games. Those four goals have come on a total of five shots. Yup, it's good to play with skill. When skill combines with skill, you get the starts of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. While not lighting the world on fire, Benn has five points in four games with 12 SOG, and Seguin has four goals with a hat trick on 14 shots. Not bad.

Trend number two has been the elite living up to it at the start. Alex Ovechkin is second in the league with five goals, Sidney Crosby has four goals and three assists in three games, and Rick Nash has found his old scoring touch in MSG with six goals in five games. The Ducks dynamic duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry have combined for six goals, six assists and 29 shots in only four games. Patrick Sharp has unloaded 21 shots in three games and Zach Parise has taken an absurd 19 shots in two games. Two games. Yeah, it's nice to play Colorado.

Which brings us to trend three, playing bad teams. Colorado has allowed 35.6 shots per game so far on the season and could be without last season's Veniza finalist Semyon Varlamov for a while. Edmonton has yet to keep a team under five goals thru four games, allowing six to the Kings on Tuesday and following that up by giving up seven to the Coyotes. But all that pales in comparison to Buffalo, who are allowing 39 shots per game (dead last) and 4.25 goals per game (next to last). The moral of the story is if you have someone playing these teams, make sure they are in your lineup.

Trend four has been the Penguins power play. Last season they were tied for the top spot in the league clicking along at 23.4 percent. This season, it's been even more deadly. They are 6-for-13 thru three games and are led by the usual suspects. Kris Letang has three helpers with the advantage, Evgeni Malkin has a goal and two assists and Chris Kunitz has two tallys with one helper. Newcomer Patric Hornqvist has chipped in three assists on the advantage. But the ringleader is still Sid the Kid, with three goals and two assists with the extra man. He is kind of good.

The final trend has been the rise of new faces among the defense. While not necessarily new to his team, Victor Hedman is staking his claim as an elite fantasy blueliner with three goals, four assists and 10 shots while playing over 22 minutes a game. Johnny Boychuk is enjoying his change of scenery to the Isle with two goals and four assists in his first four games with his new team. Sami Vatanen is taking advantage of getting power play time with the Ducks top unit getting three helpers and launching eight shots. T.J. Brodie has two goals and three assists pairing up with fantasy stalwart Mark Giordano for the Flames. There are still familiar faces atop the defensive rankings with Shea Weber, Dion Phaneuf and Keith Yandle getting off to good starts, but fresh faces are quickly moving up the ranks.

See you next week for another fantasy wrap up and hopefully Mikkel Boedker keeps up his goal scoring ways.